IRL: Homestead: Season opener race report

WHELDON STARTS SEASON WITH WIN AT MIAMI HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 6, 2005 -- Dan Wheldon opened the 2005 IRL IndyCar® Series season with a dominating victory in the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein...


HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 6, 2005 -- Dan Wheldon opened the 2005 IRL IndyCar® Series season with a dominating victory in the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Honda-powered Dallara, led all but two of the final 129 laps and beat defending race winner Sam Hornish Jr., by 3.6936 seconds. Defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan was third, recording his 16th consecutive top-five finish, dating back to the Phoenix race in 2004.

Wheldon averaged 142.033 mph en route to the victory, the fourth of his IndyCar Series career. The race was slowed seven times for 35 laps, the most serious accident occurring when eight cars were involved in an accident on Lap 159.

Tomas Scheckter, Kosuke Matsuura, Ed Carpenter, Danica Patrick, Bryan Herta, Scott Sharp, Scott Dixon and Roger Yasukawa were all involved in the crash. Patrick was the only driver injured. She was examined by doctors at Baptist Hospital in Kendall, Fla., and released in good condition with a concussion.


* This is Dan Wheldon's fourth career IndyCar Series victory. His last win came at Nazareth Speedway in 2004.

* This is the 11th win for Andretti Green Racing. The team's last victory was with Dan Wheldon at Nazareth in 2004.

* Sam Hornish Jr, finished second, his fourth top-two finish in five starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* Patrick Carpentier finished seventh in his IndyCar Series debut.

* A.J. Foyt IV finished ninth, his career-best finish in the IndyCar Series.

* Paul Dana finished 10th in his IndyCar Series debut, the highest finishing Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate.


DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was pretty tough. It was a fantastic result for the team. They worked very hard on it. It's going to be a tough season. You could see how competitive it was. I'm very, very happy with the result. It's a really, really good way to start a competitive 17-race season."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "(Sam Hornish) was setting me up for a long time. What can I do? It's racing. He had a faster car. I took the opportunity to pass him when he kind of hesitated, and he got me back. He's been a good guy. We have to work on it and have a faster car."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We weren't very fast out by ourselves, we couldn't run very good, but we could run well in traffic. We always like to win. We got that restart, we did exactly what we needed to do. We stayed right on them on the restart. We got a little bit of a push when we got behind him. We had a good car. We could run wherever we were on the track, but just not quite fast enough."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "I had a really good race car today. I was able to drive inside and outside. On the last restart, I was overtaking (Tomas) Scheckter outside Turn 1. I think we were three-wide, and at that time, I was driving on the outside and got up into the tire marbles and dust. I spun and hit Scheckter. I am very sorry for the other drivers that crashed. It was a tough day."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone): The main thing is that the team did their best, and I certainly did my best today. I certainly could not do anything better. It's good because it's the start of the year, like last year, with a good result. Now we have to carry it on and do the job that we have to do. Honda certainly did their job, they won the race again. We'll just carry on working." (About Buddy Rice going out early) "I don't know which problem he had, but I know I came into the pits and he was already there with a problem. Overall for the team, it wasn't a very good day, but I had a fairly good day. I don't think we had a top-five car, but with the work, doing the right things, we could accomplish that."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was awesome, incredible. This place is fantastic. They did a hell of a job. That's we got, fifth place. We tried to be consistent, and it paid off. Championships are won as well with fifth place." (About the end of the race): "That was incredible. It wasn't for the lead, but it was for second through fifth. It was a hell of a race. Everybody seems to respect each other well, and that's what we need."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I really had to stick on Manning's car there at the end. We did the best we could with what we had. It was a difficult weekend. We had some problems, and we need to improve the car for the next race. Today's goal was to finish, and to finish in the top 10. We did that. An accident would have been hard on the team and put us back even further, so we are in a good place to work hard for Phoenix." (About multi-car accident late in race:) "I saw Scott (Sharp) go sideways, then a couple of other cars with Danica (Patrick). I guess they touched, and they all started coming towards me. It was close."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We had really good balance after the first pit stop, and the car stayed pretty neutral from then on out. We didn't have the speed we needed and playing defense the whole race is not the way to go racing. A top-10 finish is not a bad way to start the season."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone): "I don't know what happened. All I saw was Bryan Herta spin in front of me, and I had no where to go. I had to stay on the high-side, so I hit the wall and then got into Bryan's car. I really didn't see what happened up front. I heard Tomas (Scheckter) and Kosuke (Matsuura) got together and that caused everything. Just one of those days, I think we had a great car. We were looking for a great finish, but it's unfortunate, so we have to work on it for the next race."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No 4. Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Stupidity of drivers once again on a restart. A driver tries to go three-wide, I think it was the 55, cut down on me and took half the field."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Kosuke and Scheckter spun in front of me and there was no where to go and then someone hit me from behind."

PAUL DANA (No. 91 Ethanol/Remy/LifeFitness Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We finished, which was our goal. We made the top 10, which was beyond our expectations. It's not how we wanted to get there. Obviously, we were not up to speed all weekend, and we got run over out there a few times. It's not what I'm about, and it's not what the team's about, but we're here. Hopefully, we'll do better next time."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Overall, the car was good, but once I lost the draft it was really slow. It was my best finish but I didn't really deserve ninth. I was really lucky two times today. First was the pit fire, and then, we had to pit again for fuel. By the time we caught up to the field on the restart, they finished crashing. I feel sorry for the guys who were racing really hard and crashed. Hopefully, no one got hurt. But we go to Phoenix ninth in points."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/ Firestone): "Sixth place is a solid result for the No. 10 Target Toyota and crew. We didn't quite have the speed, but we did manage to avoid most of the accidents out there today. I did have some slight contact with Vitor Meira during that whole melee, but that caused some minimal damage to the front wing. We'll just look forward to Phoenix where we'll definitely look to be strong."


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Series IndyCar
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing